Monday, January 3, 2011

Fried Black-Eyed Peas to start the New Year right!

Black-eyed peas and cabbage or greens in the South on New Year's Day is a must. Sadly as a southerner I don't like either items in the traditional way that we serve them. I refrain from commenting on the condition of those greens that my family and friends gobble down without thinking twice. When I was a little girl and my daddy washed the underside of the lawn mower, I thought for sure those were collard greens that were washing out. Since then I have never been able to eat a whole bowl of that green gold that everyone loves. They are one of those foods that just fall outside my comfort zone. My grandmother always said you had to eat at least a spoonful of greens and peas for good luck in the New Year. I did what she ask because I loved her, but I never loved either of those foods.

After becoming an adult and realizing that greens didn't have to look like the lawn mower wash out and peas weren't evil, I have learned to tolerate greens and like peas. My husband loves greens and when I can get them fresh at the farmers market I cook those for him and I try a little each time. Black-eyed peas are not readily available in Nebraska, but the frozen or dried peas are pretty good. This year my husband asked for something he saw on Food Network. Fried Black-eyed peas, yes southerner's will try to fry anything. These were actually very good and addictive and I will say taste nothing like a black-eyed pea! If there are any left over store in a glass jar in the fridge. I think these would be great served on salads or mixed in with a snack mix that is savory.

Fried Black-Eyed Peas

2 cups dried black-eyed peas
6 cups water
1/2cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped poblano or any chili pepper
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons of cooking oil
Ham bone or ham hocks (could use bacon)

Soak peas overnight, do not put in fridge. If you forget you can soak in hot water for 1-2 hours before cooking, peas need to give to pressure a little bit when squeezed.
Chop onion, peppers, cilantro and garlic. Place oil in heavy dutch oven and heat oil to medium-high. Add onions & peppers, saute till soft then reduce the heat to low and add cilantro & garlic sauting 1-2 minutes.
Add ham bone or ham hocks, saute for 2-3 minutes on medium heat then add water to cover. Approximately 6-8 cups of water depending on the size and depth of your pot. Drain & rinse soaking peas well then add to dutch oven
Bring to a slow boil at medium high and then reduce heat to medium low. Cook till tender, usually about 1 1/2 hours. Check on peas while cooking and add more water if needed. Peas are done when they are soft but still have texture when tasted. Can't be mushy and really soft to fry correctly.

To fry the peas:
Cool peas and drain off all the liquid. In a deep fryer or deep heavy saucepan place 1 cup of canola or peanut oil. Heat to 325 degrees and cook by the spoonfuls for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with your favorite seasoning while hot. I used New Southern Pantry All Purpose Seasoning but anything that adds the kick you like will work.
Can be stored in glass container in fridge for several days.

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